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The Last American

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“AN ULTRA-radical Muslim group banned in many countries will promote support for an Islamic superstate in a seminar in Australia this month. Christian critics claim that the seminar, to be conducted by the group Hizb ut-Tahrir, will be a recruiting ground for extremists. Hizb ut-Tahrir believes that the caliphate—a part of the world under Muslim rule that, at its peak, ran from Spain to Iran and beyond—is about to be re-established.”[1]

Do you believe it? They didn’t believe the stories about Osama bin Laden before 9–11. While going through my files, I came across an article written by Kit R. Roane on June 11, 2001 for U.S. News & World Report. She reported how former State Department officials did not take bin Laden seriously. Keep in mind that this was published exactly three months before the tragedy of September 11 and after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1988 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Democrats who are ranting about “no imminent threat” in Iraq had plenty of evidence of a threat by bin Laden but did nothing about it. The Clinton administration was clueless despite piles of evidence:

Before four of his foot soldiers went on trial for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing, Osama bin Laden seemed as dangerous as Lucifer and as omnipresent as evil. But after they were found guilty last week [July 2001] of conspiring in the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the notion of a vast, cohesive terrorist organization seemed dramatically overblown.[2]

What was the Clinton administration doing about bin Laden before 1998 since he “seemed as dangerous as Lucifer”? But after 1998, interest in bin Laden dropped like a stone. Did you notice that last sentence?: “the notion of a vast, cohesive terrorist organization seemed dramatically overblown.” In my search for the article on the internet, I could find only one web site that made any reference to Roane’s article.[3] Has it purposely been buried? Even conservatives are not citing it as evidence that our intelligence sources were non-existent in the 1990s. Is it any wonder that on September 10, 2001, Osama bin Laden’s loosely connected band of terrorists was not seen as an “imminent threat”?

According to Roane, among the key revelations that came out at the Embassy bombing trial was that bin Laden’s “organization, al Qaeda, is neither as well funded nor as well organized as many experts previously thought. Infighting and jealousy riddle its top ranks.” Keep in mind that this was the opinion of the intelligence community prior to 9–11. Is this the same bin Laden who convinced grown men to commit suicide by flying gasoline-laden jet liners into buildings?

Here’s how former State Department counterterrorism official Larry Johnson described bin Laden’s terror network: “What the evidence shows is that bin Laden has an international network of contacts, but that it’s more analogous to the Elvis Presley Fan Club than a corporation like General Motors.” With intelligence like this, is it any wonder that the Bush Administration has been frustrated by its inability to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? How could they ever know? Our ability to find and assess reliable intelligence information has been hampered over the years by an unwillingness to use in-the-field analysis. The assumption has been that a satellite in the sky is better than a guy on the ground. On September 10, 2001, Osama bin Laden was not an “imminent threat.” By September 11th, it was too late.

There’s a scene in the movie The Untouchables (1987) that has broader application to the criminal history of Chicago during prohibition. Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, is wrecking the cogs of Al Capone’s money machine. Capone tells his underlings: “I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!”[4]

Let’s understand something. Osama bin Laden and his “fan club” want us dead! The sooner we understand this, the sooner we as a nation will unite around this new enemy. The old methods of warfare no longer apply. We are not fighting a fixed enemy but an idea for world domination in the name and ways of Allah. In one of his post-9–11 messages to the West, bin Laden (or one of his surrogates) makes it clear that theirs is a long-term strategy: “You young people of Islam everywhere have to go wage jihad and show your muscles. Follow the right path and don’t follow people who follow their whims . . . who want to divert you from such a mission.”

It gets worse. Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a former Baptist and the first Muslim ever to lead a prayer before the start of a session of the House of Representatives, was invited to a state department banquet hosted by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But this guy has ulterior movements that do not bode well for the America we know. He knows what he wants, and it’s not the best for the Christian West. “In time,” the Imam says in an audio presentation in wide distribution, “this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”[5] And he means it.

While bin Laden and his followers are planning ultimate victory over the Christian West through terrorism, others are working within the system, using our political freedoms against us, to bring about a similar end. Some Christian leaders are telling us that since our time on earth is temporary, why be concerned about evils that could eventually overtake us. If I spend a few weeks at a vacation home, a temporary respite from my everyday home, does this mean that I can trash the place, leave the doors unlocked to make it easier for thieves to break in, and neglect required maintenance? Yes, heaven is ultimately my home, but that truth in no way affects my earthly responsibilities.

Of course, there’s always the rapture. When things get really bad, God will rescue His people from an inevitable period of tribulation. Sorry. It’s not going to happen. The next great eschatological event in your lifetime and mine is death! Your children and grandchildren will be left behind to contend with the world we leave them. That’s reality.

I am reminded of the sobering messages on the dedication page of J. A. Mitchell’s The Last American[6] (1889) and the book’s closing words: “To those thoughtful Persians who can read a warning in the sudden rise and swift extinction of a foolish people [the Americans] this volume is dedicated. . . . Again upon the sea. This time for Persia, bearing our wounded and the ashes of the dead [the last American]; those of the natives are reposing beneath the Great Temple [U.S. Capitol]. The skull of the last Mehrikan I shall present to the museum at Teheran.”

Pray and act that it will not be so.

Footnotes:
[1]
. Barney Zwartz , “Local push for Islamic state,”(January 9, 2007)
[2]
. Kit R. Roane, “It’s hardly Terror Inc.,” U.S. News & World Report (July 11, 2001), 31.
[3]. The only site that makes reference to the article is www.silverscreentest.com/koala/eucalyptus/july03.htm. If you want a hard copy of the article, go to the archives section of U.S. News & World Report: www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/archive/010611/20010611037621_brief.php.
[4]. There will be some who read this that will be more upset about me quoting a movie line with “piss” in it than the threat that seeks to destroy us (see 1 Kings 16:11, KJV).
[5]. Quoted in Paul M. Barrett, “One Imam Traces the Path of Islam in Black America,” The Wall Street Journal (October 24, 2003), A1.
[6]. J. A. Mitchell, The Last American (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, Co., 1889).
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